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Governor dismisses several members of Puerto Rico Statistics Institute board

By on July 24, 2017

SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló dismissed four of the seven members of the Puerto Rico Statistics Institute (PRSI) board after apparent problems with government data collection and the lack of the entity’s integration with the rest of the agencies.

Despite the dismissals—which were announced in a written statement by the secretary of Public Affairs and Public Policy, Ramón Rosario—the governor left the PRSI’s director, Dr. Mario Marazzi, in place as he has been in charge of the agency for the past 10 years.

Of the seven board members, Chairman Antonio Fernós, Vice Chairwoman Ana Dávila, Marta Álvarez and Sonia Balet Dalmau will leave their posts. On Monday afternoon, however, they announced having named Dr. Marazzi for another 10-year period, possibly foreshadowing a dispute by the dismissed members and the administration.

Shortly after the announcement, the secretary of Public Affairs and Public Policy released a statement from the governor’s office saying that the decision to name Marazzi was made by a board that had been removed.

The executive director’s contract reportedly ran through the end of this month.

The dismissals are made under Act 3 of 2017, which allows the governor to remove members of government boards.

PRSI board Secretary Antonio Cruz Sanabria, attorney Álex López Echegaray and accountant Bethsié Rosa Reyes will remain in their posts. Cruz Sanabria was not dismissed because “he has demonstrated the advanced vision we need,” while López Echegaray and Rosa Reyes were renominated by the governor.

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Rosselló nominated Planning Board Chairwoman María Gordillo to the board to bring the two agencies together. He also nominated attorney and CPA Jeannelle Alemar Escabí, resulting in five members, which maintains quorum on the board.

Officials started their duties immediately, as the Senate, which must confirm them, is in recess.

“In the first six months of the administration, we have seen how many of the problems that led us to the fiscal crisis and the deficit of $7.6 billion are due to the collection of incorrect data by the government and its dependencies. In many instances, we have had to audit and establish new processes to correct the incorrect data that the government collected for decades,” Rosario added in the statement.

According to the governor’s office. La Fortaleza, the PRSI has distanced itself from other government agencies, since it has not been able to integrate agencies to share the information they collect.

“The changes that have to be made to the government and the institute are abysmal in that respect. In the case of the institute, we have to restructure its organization so that, in addition to being a data collection entity, it becomes an apparatus that helps transform the processes of information technology and oversee them,” the Public Affairs secretary said.

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